RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — First Flight Venture Center (First Flight), for the third year in a row, has been awarded a $125,000 grant by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program.

Its president, Krista Covey, said the RTP-based science and technology incubator for North Carolina entrepreneurs plans to use the funds on two fronts. First, it will boost the submission of “competitive SBIR/STTR proposals and increase winning grants.”

It will select up to six companies to join First Flight’s LiftOff Program, which is designed to help startups find and secure non-dilutive funding through grants and other sources.

“LiftOff has been shown to exponentially increase entrepreneurs’ chances to obtain funding, allowing them to remain self-sustaining during their start-up phase,” Covey said, adding that, since its founding, it has won over $16,000,000 in non-dilutive funding from SBIR/STTR grants.

“We also appreciate the opportunity to again work with the SBA Office of Innovation and Technology to increase funding, strengthen company infrastructures and positively impact economic development in North Carolina.”

Proposals for the FAST awards were limited to one per state or U.S. territory, based on the endorsement of each governor. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, made the recommendation for First Flight’s application.

“First Flight is leveraging its success in filling the gaps in the innovation ecosystem that often prevent entrepreneurs from submitting competitive SBIR/STTR grants,” said John Hardin, Executive Director of the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology & Innovation.

“This FAST grant complements our One NC Small Business Program, which has been striving for growth and greater geographic distribution of federal small-business technology grants across underrepresented areas in North Carolina. With First Flight as a partner we will continue moving toward that goal.”

The 2020/2021 FAST Cohort will be comprised of a group of promising science-focused companies who will benefit from concentrated guidance, support and evaluation. Cohort members will attend a grant-readiness “Boot Camp” to prepare them to submit a competitive SBIR/STTR grant.

The FAST Cohort application will be live on the First Flight website by October 31.

Established in 1991, First Flight has hosted more than 400 plus science-focused companies, providing strategic education, tailored resources, guidance, connections and office/lab space.